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Suspected German anti-government extremists arrested over blackout and kidnapping plan, authorities say


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German authorities have reportedly arrested four people they believe were involved in an anti-government plot to kidnap well-known public figures like the country’s health minister and cause a nationwide blackout.

Prosecutors in Koblenz and the Rhineland-Palatinate Criminal Police Office said searches were carried out at 20 properties across Germany on Wednesday following an investigation launched last year.

FILE: German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaks to the media during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday, February 25, 2022.
(AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

The suspects were members of a chat group called “United Patriots” on the Telegram messaging service.

Investigators said the suspects had ties to protest movements against COVID-related restrictions and to the Citizens of the Reich movement, which challenges Germany’s post-World War II order.

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Authorities allege the group aimed to destroy electricity supply facilities and cause a nationwide blackout, producing “civil war-like conditions” and overthrowing the country’s democratic system.

Police seized nearly two dozen firearms, including a Kalashnikov rifle, ammunition, cash and fake COVID-19 vaccination and test certificates.

People line up to be vaccinated against the coronavirus during a vaccination campaign by the DRK, German Red Cross, in front of the town hall in Pirna, Germany, Monday, November 15, 2021.

People line up to be vaccinated against the coronavirus during a vaccination campaign by the DRK, German Red Cross, in front of the town hall in Pirna, Germany, Monday, November 15, 2021.
(Robert Michael/dpa via AP)

Investigators also said they planned to kidnap well-known public figures, such as Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. He said protests against coronavirus restrictions have turned into more sweeping demands to overthrow the government.

“All of this shows that the corona protests have not only become more radical, but that it is now about more than corona – that there is an attempt here to destabilize the state,” he said. he told reporters. “It’s a small minority in our society, but very dangerous.”

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The suspects, all German citizens, are accused of having prepared an act of serious violence and of having violated the laws on weapons.

“We are dealing with a mixture of conspiracy theorists, vaccine opponents but also citizens of the Reich whom we have not seen in this form until now,” said the head of the police office. state criminal of Rhineland-Palatinate, Johannes Kunz.

He said members of the group had repeatedly expressed their contempt for the German state, expressing a wish that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not just attack Ukraine but also invade Germany. reported the dpa news agency.

Police officers arrest a man during a protest against restrictions and measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, May 16, 2020.

Police officers arrest a man during a protest against restrictions and measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, May 16, 2020.
(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Prosecutor Juergen Brauer said the group’s purchase of weapons and money made it clear to investigators that they were “dangerous criminals” and not just “chicks”.

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German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the investigation indicated “a serious terrorist threat” and that Lauterbach’s kidnapping plan and fantasies of overthrowing democracy constituted “a new quality of threat”.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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